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Indiana WIRED update August 23, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Innovation, WIRED, Workforce.
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From Purdue University, administrator of the North Central Indiana WIRED grant (courtesy of Kevin Thompson at the Employment & Training Administration):

Purdue to advance regional economic development efforts

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue University’s efforts to support regional economic development and high-skill employment opportunities in north-central Indiana will be coordinated by a new Workforce Innovations in Regional Economic Development project administrator.

Mark C. Smith of Muncie, Ind., will work directly with Purdue’s Center for Regional Development to manage the project, known as WIRED, that is designed to transform north-central Indiana into a high-performance production economy. Smith will work on collaborative ventures with business, education and government officials to create new economic opportunities and high-paying jobs.

WIRED serves 14 counties in north-central Indiana. The counties will work together to implement projects related to entrepreneurship, industry clusters, talent networks and civic collaboration. Smith will maintain a primary office at Inventrek Technology Park in Kokomo, Ind.

Examples of regional approaches to economic development include efforts of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, which is an alliance of Indiana businesses and universities that collaborates on projects related to issues facing central Indiana. Issues include encouraging high-growth, high-wage economic clusters and expanding capital formation.

Another regional alliance of public and private leadership established the West Gate at Crane Technology Park, which is the only multicounty technology park project in Indiana. More than 4,000 scientists, engineers and technical professionals are now employed at the military base and park.

Smith said he is eager to coordinate new projects and develop long-lasting relationships.

“I look forward to establishing a collaborative framework among a wide range of stakeholders that includes local, state and federal officials, civic and industry leaders, financial investors, philanthropists and experts from higher education, work force and economic development fields,” Smith said. “While this initiative is broad in scope, our ultimate goal is to expand employment and advancement opportunities for regional workers throughout north-central Indiana and spark the creation of high-skill and high-wage jobs.”

Before joining Purdue, Smith served as vice president of community development for Meridian Services, a mental health facility in Muncie. Previous experience includes a 13-year tenure with Ontario Corp., a privately held operating company based in Muncie. Smith graduated from Purdue in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and received his master’s degree in business administration from Ball State University in 1992.

Victor L. Lechtenberg, Purdue vice provost for engagement and Center for Regional Development co-director, said Smith brings extensive knowledge of how to operate in the new global economy.

“Mark provides more than 16 years of experience in government, community and corporate relations during which he worked with top leaders in public, private and non-profit sectors,” Lechtenberg said. “This experience is a strong asset as we continue our efforts to further integrate economic development with education at the regional level.”

WIRED, which is part of President George W. Bush’s Competitiveness Agenda, is funded by a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration. The grant is administered through the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

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